Public speaking is one of the most important yet commonly feared forms of communication. Experts estimate that 77% of the population experiences some form of anxiety over this soft skill.
That’s where public speaking classes can help. Classes teach people how to calm their nerves, use their voice and body language to their advantage, speechwriting and persuasion techniques, and more. Honing your public speaking skills can make you a more effective communicator during job interviews, in the workplace, and beyond.
We researched over 20 different online public speaking classes and examined syllabi, costs, length, reviews, instructors, and certification options. These are the best courses we found.
The 7 Best Online Public Speaking Classes of 2020
- Dynamic Public Speaking Certification by University of Washington: Best Overall
- Public Speaking by Rochester Institute of Technology: Runner-Up, Best Overall
- COMM 110: Fundamentals of Public Speaking at the University of North Dakota: Best for College Credit
- 2020 Complete Public Speaking Masterclass for Any Occasion: Best Value
- LinkedIn Learning Communicating With Confidence: Best Short Class
- Public Speaking by VirtualSpeech: Best for Practicing
- The Complete Presentation and Public Speaking/Speech Course: Best for Presentations
Best Overall: Dynamic Public Speaking Certification by University of Washington
The Dynamic Public Speaking Certification by the University of Washington is actually a set of four public speaking courses: Introduction to Public Speaking, Speaking to Inform, Speaking to Persuade, and Speaking to Inspire, which can be completed together or separately. This set of courses is our top choice because it is comprehensive, gives personalized feedback, and is designed for those who are serious about improving their public speaking skills. According to the program’s Coursera page, 67% of students who completed the certification were able to start a new career, while 40% earned a pay increase or promotion.
Led by award-winning lecturer and communications scholar Dr. Matt McGarrity, the course content is designed to help you become a more confident and dynamic speaker, perfect your delivery techniques, master speechwriting, and build a speech portfolio. Students are required to design, practice, and record their speeches, and will receive expert one-on-one feedback on their progress. The courses can be completed at your own pace, with the suggested commitment at three hours per week, for a total length of five months. No prerequisites or prior knowledge is required, although you must complete the Introduction to Public Speaking before moving onto the other three courses.
If you’re only interested in watching the lectures and reading the course material, you can do so at no cost. However, to complete the assignments and earn the course certificate, you will need to pay the $49/month Coursera subscription fee.
Runner-Up, Best Overall: Public Speaking by Rochester Institute of Technology
The Rochester Institute of Technology’s online Public Speaking course on edX is another fantastic option and asks for a much shorter time commitment than the University of Washington’s course. In just three weeks, with four to six hours per week of studying, you can learn how to control your public speech anxiety, build confidence, and give a compelling speech. This course is our runner-up because the content, while solid, is less comprehensive and interactive, and the instructor is less engaging.
The course is taught by Keith B. Jenkins, the vice president and associate provost for diversity and inclusion at RIT and a published academic scholar of communications and rhetoric. Over 100,000 students have taken the course, making it one of the most popular on edX’s platform. While three weeks is the estimated completion time, you’re welcome to complete the course at your desired pace. No prior experience is necessary, making this course great for beginners.
The course is free to audit, but in order to participate in graded quizzes, complete the final speech assignment, and earn a professional certificate, a one-time payment of $49 is required. This course is one out of six courses that make up RIT’s Soft Skills Certification program. You will earn an additional certificate by completing the other five courses.
Best for College Credit: COMM 110: Fundamentals of Public Speaking at the University of North Dakota
Although the University of Washington and Rochester Institute of Technology courses offer professional certificates, neither course offers college credit. If you’re looking to take an online public speaking class and earn college credit, the University of North Dakota offers its Fundamentals of Public Speaking class through its Self-Paced Enroll Anytime option. Anyone can enroll and no prior public speaking experience or courses are required.
Led by Anne Hook, a UND alumna and adjunct instructor, the course focuses on the theory and practice of public speaking, as well as perfecting speech content, organization, and delivery. There is a total of 10 online lessons and two open-book exams, for which students are required to record speeches and upload them to the school’s online portal. Once enrolled, students have up to nine months to finish the course.
Upon completion of the course, you’ll earn three college credits that can be transferred to other Higher Learning Commission accredited institutions or put toward a bachelor’s degree in communications at UND. At $342.16 per credit, the total cost for the course is $1,026.48, which is relatively affordable thanks to North Dakota’s low in-state tuition rates.
Best Value: 2020 Complete Public Speaking Masterclass for Any Occasion
If you’re looking to master public speaking in any situation, The 2020 Complete Public Speaking Masterclass for Any Occasion is your best bet. Course instructor TJ Walker is a world-renowned speaker, entrepreneur, and author. His course is one of the most popular on Udemy and currently boasts a 4.4/5 rating, with most reviews praising its comprehensiveness and extensive use of real-world examples.
We chose this course because of its great reputation and the fact that for a relatively low price, it gives you lifetime access to trainings on over 20 different public speaking scenarios, including investor pitches, job interviews, presenting during virtual conference calls, and more. The course can be completed at your own pace and comes with 31 hours of video, six articles, and seven downloadable resources. No prior experience is necessary.
This course retails for $89.99 and includes lifetime access and a free, downloadable certificate upon completion.
Best Short Class: LinkedIn Learning Communicating With Confidence
At just over an hour and 15 minutes, the Communicating With Confidence Course from LinkedIn Learning is short but mighty. Led by Jeff Ansell, a highly experienced presentation coach and communications leader, this course’s 23 brief lectures will leave you with actionable tips on how to better express your ideas and calm your nerves.
We chose this course as our best short class because Ansell is a very engaging instructor who will teach you how to connect with your audience, choose the right words, and appear confident in an incredibly short amount of time. This course is the most-viewed public speaking course on the platform, with over 283,000 students.
This course can be completed at your own pace and at no additional cost if you have a LinkedIn Learning subscription ($29.99 per month with a monthly plan, $19.99 per month with an annual plan) or you can purchase the course by itself for $34.99. LinkedIn Learning also offers a one-month free trial, which you can use to take this course for free. You will have lifetime access to the course lectures and quizzes through your subscription or if you purchase it separately.
Best for Practicing: Public Speaking by VirtualSpeech
Founded in 2016, VirtualSpeech is an online course platform that combines traditional tutorial videos with virtual reality. We chose the class because it uses technology to give its students the opportunity to practice in realistic settings, which is where most online courses fall short.
Using a VR headset and the Virtual Speech app, students get the unique opportunity to immerse themselves in lifelike settings. Students record their speeches and movements in the app and receive instant feedback based on their use of filler words, pitch, pace, and eye contact. Many have cited the VR scenarios as being incredibly helpful and realistic in the course reviews.
VirtualSpeech’s Public Speaking class is led by expert speaker Dom Barnard and contains video lessons, quizzes, slideshows, and case studies designed to help you become a more confident speaker. The course has six hours of material that you can view at your own pace.
This course retails for $150 for the standard option and if you already own a VR headset. If you don’t have a headset, VirtualSpeech will send you one for an additional $45, for a total of $195. You can also purchase an Advanced version of the course, which comes with additional personalized feedback as well as a public speaking playbook, for $250 without the headset. Purchasing the course gives you unlimited access to the course’s lectures, quizzes, and case studies for 12 months.
Best for Presentations: The Complete Presentation and Public Speaking/Speech Course
If you’re looking to perfect your presentation and public speaking skills together, you’ll want to enroll in The Complete Presentation and Public Speaking/Speech Course, the top-selling presentation course on Udemy.
The course is taught by Chris Haroun, an award-winning MBA professor, venture capitalist, and author. We chose this course because Haroun not only breaks down how to structure, practice, and prepare for an engaging presentation, but he also provides an incredible amount of detail on how to write your presentation slides.
No prior public speaking or design skills are required. The course contains a total of 16 hours of on-demand video, 29 articles, and a whopping 307 downloadable materials (presentation guides, speech planning guides, and more). With a 4.4/5 rating, students praise this course for Haroun’s breadth of knowledge, passion, and sense of humor as well as its huge amount of downloadable resources.
The course currently retails for $59.99 and comes with lifetime access. Once you’ve finished, you also have the option to download a certificate of completion.
What Is an Online Public Speaking Class?
Public speaking classes help people conquer glossophobia and sharpen their verbal communication skills. Unlike an in-person class, an online class may ask you to record a speech at home and upload it as an assignment to be critiqued, give a speech over a virtual video conferencing tool like Zoom, or use virtual reality to help you practice in front of a simulated audience. After successfully completing a course, students have been known to use their refined speaking skills to change careers or land a promotion.
What Does an Online Public Speaking Class Include?
A typical online public speaking class includes lessons on mastering confident body language, tone of voice, reducing the use of filler words, as well as tips for minimizing anxiety. More comprehensive classes tend to include graded assignments, peer review sessions, and detailed information on how to study your audience. Class length varies. Some are taught in as little as one hour while others span across six or seven months. Most online classes do not have any prerequisites.
What Is the Cost of an Online Public Speaking Class?
Online public speaking classes vary in cost, ranging from completely free to thousands of dollars. Online classes tend to cost more when they include quizzes, peer reviews, personalized feedback, or a completion certificate. Free or low-cost classes usually only consist of pre-recorded videos and exercise suggestions, with no option to submit graded assignments or earn a certificate. Classes that offer professional certificates can run anywhere from $30 to $250. Classes that offer real college credit run upward of $1,000.
Is Taking an Online Public Speaking Class Worth It?
You can always practice your speech in front of a mirror, but taking an online public speaking class can help you analyze your audience, prepare your speech ahead of time, and get constructive feedback on your presence and mannerisms. With formal training, you can pinpoint your exact strengths and weaknesses, learn tips and tricks, and earn a certification to share on your LinkedIn profile and your resume.
How We Chose the Best Online Public Speaking Classes
We looked at about 20 different classes before narrowing it down to this final list. To choose the best classes, we factored in course content, required time commitment, cost, user reviews, and instructor expertise and engagement. Other important considerations were certificate or credit options and accessibility. We chose to examine these qualities in particular because we believe they are the most important things to consider when looking for an online public speaking class.